Sun, 24 Feb 2013 01:38:05 GMT | By Kee Thuan Chye

Too much made of The Economist Intelligence Unit Report

What the report really centres on is the likely financial outlook for Malaysia in the aftermath of the general election, hence its title ‘A fiscal bidding war’.

A giant image of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak with an election campaign message is displayed on the facade of his United Malays National Organisation headquarters, as the landmark Petronas Twin Towers are seen in the background, in Kuala Lumpur February 3, 2013. Speculation has been swirling over the timing of what is expected to be a fiercely fought election, which Najib must call in less than three months.

Bazuki Muhammad, REUTERS

Too much has been made of the recent report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which is part of the magazine The Economist.

The Malaysian news agency Bernama spun it to make it appear a forecast of the upcoming general election result. It claimed the EIU predicted the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government “will” win the upcoming general election while the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat, for making “costly promises”, appears “a distant second”. It also said the EIU’s conclusion was based on BN’s “successful track record, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s reform agenda, and his successful economic leadership”. On the other hand, it added, “Pakatan’s populism has remained to be simply hot air”.

Rafizi Ramli, chief of strategy for one of Pakatan’s component parties, PKR, has, however, dismissed Bernama’s spin as being filled with incorrect information. “The report in itself is very neutral,” he said, “but because of Bernama and the way they spin it, it looks like The Economist is giving us a real thrashing.”

It has to be said, after looking at the EIU’s report, that Bernama has indeed coloured its report with subjective interpretation. Nowhere does the EIU state that BN will win the general election. It merely says that BN is “likely” to win, but also that “it will probably fail to attain the two-thirds parliamentary majority that would enable it to make constitutional changes unchallenged”. Neither does the EIU intimate that BN’s likely victory would be due to its “successful” track record and Najib’s “successful” economic leadership. The use of “hot air” is also Bernama’s own editorialising.

In fact, the EIU report actually says that the BN government “has spent lavishly in two consecutive budgets in order to please voters”. And, essentially, it sees the general election as “likely to be a tight race”, and does “not expect the outcome to lead to a dramatic improvement in the public finances”.

What the report really centres on is the likely financial outlook for Malaysia in the aftermath of the general election, hence its title ‘A fiscal bidding war’. Its priority is not really about predicting which side would win.

Even so, a closer analysis of the language the report uses could indicate a slight bias. For instance, it points out that Pakatan “is making many costly promises to the electorate in its eagerness to gain power” but these have “attracted less attention than the generosity” of the BN government. There appears a fair measure of editorialising in the choice of words like “eagerness to gain power”, which throws a negative hue on Pakatan, and “generosity”, which engenders positive connotations for what is really disputable spending on the part of BN.

It also singles out the Pakatan-led Selangor state government for having been accused, mainly by BN, of breaking its promises, having implemented only 15 per cent of its election pledges made in 2008. Why does it pick on the Selangor state government on this particular aspect while it overlooks the positive fiscal achievements accomplished by it and the Penang state government, which is also Pakatan-led?

In any case, the report appears to have been made from an armchair position as it says nothing new that clued-in Malaysians don’t already know about. And for all its professional reputation as a reliable assessor, the EIU is not privy to the country’s hidden accounts and offers no reading of the Malaysian ground sentiment. Its report should therefore be given only a fair amount of serious consideration.

Feb 25, 2013 12:04AM

its liken the US election.

the repulican used up all the nation treasury in war and let the democrates to be in power after which that balme the democrate of mismanagement. the democrates has already have an empty treasury that was emptied by the replublican in being the world policemen.


as it is if the pakatan comes to power, those debt were already there by the BN government, which now give the RM500 'angpows' for the first and second round, and promised of a RM1000 after the BN wins. all these are turn to debts by the government.


so its nothing new. nothing is new under the sun.

Feb 25, 2013 2:07AM

Nothing is new here. Another boohaa to discredit Opposition despite the neutrality claimed


Most of the so-called neutral media are pro-government. After been in power for so long, the tentacles of corruption have slithered into the system.


Malaysia is still able to sustain itself due to the abundance of natural resource. Take away that and you have only BN's lavish spendings, not "successful" ec0n0mic plannings. Unless the term 'successful' also include how successful they have been hiding away skeleton in the closet

Feb 26, 2013 7:32AM
Nothing new to shout about. The BN's so-called propagandists have run out of ideas to run down the PR by trying to apply more "kiwi shine" to a pair of worn out shoes, even to the extent that the good   Dr. Tourism tried her luck in Melaka yesterday.
Feb 25, 2013 8:21AM
I teach Critical Thinking and I thought this is an excellent article.
Feb 27, 2013 4:23AM

what ever we can plant on the Malaysian ground for free and Singapore have to buy from us eg: daun pandan and many more but our currency 1 S$=RM2.50???

Mar 6, 2013 3:32PM
The problem with democracy in Malaysia is that we have had little choice.

While a strong, intelligent opposition is necessary for a healthy democracy, what we have in Malaysia is nothing as such.

What do we have..
On the government side:
BN: at best, stable and progressive. at worst, Malay racism, e****mics incompetence

On the opposition side:
DAP: at best, the most rational voice among the opposition. at worst, a bastion of Chinese chauvinism, one who does not care about the concern of the Malays and the Bumiputras, people who have been there for centuries.
PKR: at best, an alternative to BN. at worst, a party owned by Anwar and his family.
PAS:  at best, good in pretending to be liberals.  at worst, they are actually fundamentalist, and we know how people like them behave in places across the globe.

My wish is for an opposition that preaches what it says, have a common principle and plan, and who is not just there for the sake of toppling the government, who acknowledge the concerns of the Malays and bumiputras, and assures that the nature and characteristics of Malaysia would be maintained should they come into power. Malaysia should not turn into a Singapore or Taiwan or Hong Kong (DAP's vision), or a Saudi Arabia or Iran (PAS vision). The Malay language should be preserved and promoted as the national language, and alternative, e****mically productive plan must be made and presented on how to resolve inter-ethnic imbalance.

Mar 2, 2013 1:46AM
when i was gradson of somebody i ve seen army of motorists rushing to n fro fr S'pore to work. now i'm datuk of my kids n the troop keep increasing. why my beloved country cannot solve this trend by making things go theother ways.alamak 1S$=RM2.50 malu!
Mar 6, 2013 2:38PM
Interestingly, it seems that MSN has been spinning out Pakatan propaganda.
Who is the person-in-charge?
Mar 2, 2013 12:50AM
when i drive after s'pore imm clearance i try to test my car chasis sound defect, i hardly find a hole on the road surface to test on it, but come back to jb after ciq on jln tebrau i ve to drive like CNY water snake to avoid small virgin holes to hole like lake kenyir ah again 1S$=RM2.50!!!
Mar 2, 2013 1:02AM
when u earned S$2000pm in S'pore n Rm2000pm in Malaysia. u eat a bowl of mee in S'pore hawker center $2.50 n in Jb Tebrau food center RM4.50. at the end of the month Singaporean pocket left S$1997.50 but Malaysian left RM1995.50 see the difference! don't jealous why Singaporean r richier!
Mar 1, 2013 3:02AM
my comments here are more about the magazine, e****mist rather than about what it said. to begin with, any cheat could advertise in its ads. column as long as the cheats pay the money for the ad. a friend of mine lost a good amount of money by obtaining a degree offered by an univerity that had advertised in this magazine. it was a long time ago and as such, the guy couldn't really chec****he authenticity of the degree from the internet search engines. now what happened was, he got the degree and became a laughing stock in the company he worked for and other cos. where he had applied. then, there's been other cases as well, where people had applied for jobs that were advertised in this magazine and the outcome had been quite similar to the "degree story." if you'd been following various other news, then, you might have also heard about various law suits for libel, etc. against this lovely magazine., where are we? that's right...the e****mist on the outcome of ge13...and, who exactly did they interview for coming up with this report?
Mar 21, 2013 12:57AM

No more "cakap" or "tipu"

I am ready to VOTE.

Either Najid do a good job or BN do more than others... Please call for the GE 2013.

I wait and wait....and still wait and wait...

I become more angry and angry, as I need to VOTE for my angle....hahahahaha


Please let us put our future in "too much promise" team rather than "too much corruption" team.

These is easy choice; you want to change or not...

Peacefulness is no value, security is no value; hence we loss no value.

VOTE ofr some value: promise that difficult to keep or made the poor become rish...maybe

Mar 20, 2013 8:34AM
Remember Rudyard Kipling who long time ago said: "IF you could bear to hear the truths you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools........"
I believe here EIU tried to tell the truths, but Bernama people are clearly the knaves for misrepresenting the report in such a sinister way such as to confuse the narrow-minded who have allowed their shallow minds to be conditioned by the Malaysian mainstream media instead of opening up to the myriad of alternative information sources available.
Yes, you're right.  I mean the latter are the bloody fools especially because they even pay for the trash they consume.

Mar 18, 2013 10:15AM
We continue to suffer high costs of living, fear for our safety when we go out of our house, the country swamped by foreign workers who bring in poor third world ways of life into our country while the current Government boasts successful track record ?

The much promise car industry liberalization , improve diesel quality to Euro 3 or 4   Have not materialized ! 
Mar 23, 2013 7:21PM
Enough said and done, its just going to the dogs. Just vote them OUT!!!!
Mar 9, 2013 8:57PM
Its ashame that Malaysia have ample of resources n yet could not produce better results. After 50 yrs independence we r still so backdated. I take this opportunity to thank Dr. Mahathir for selling Malaysia during his term.  Otherwise Malaysia is still considered as a cavemen country. After the last 308 election until now,  many Malaysian should be confident that we can improve tremendously if each of us is willing to change for the better future by making a different view n choice in politics, e****mic n culture. Lets push for changes.
Mar 22, 2013 1:07PM
It should be well understood the stance made by the EIU is fairly equal to freedom of press and expression in which it resides. However, there is no avenue for the Pakatan Rakyat(PR) on the basis that PR has not even been registered the same length with BN armchair as people who do not know may be termed as such. The predicament of non-registration of PR as a complete body to suggest that a 2 party system is reaching out, has made the people who, to some higher achelons perceive as indifferent. Each state should have its own Reports not only when the GE or any Election is coming around the cornerless view of the Chief of Strategists of every small and non-autonomous party or we can call it as "superfulous chieftains". If we study E****mics in its actual basis of micro and macro as a whole, the press is just following the trends. The time series analyses of majority of the Chieftains are actually null and void and do not have the same weigh as what should be done in the first place., i.e to see where are you guys are heading to, either towards the Parliament, or just at the Edge of the Chair? Bernama has got its name, but Rafizi Ramli has got a kick-off and has no standing ovation in a small room where he should reside. So how can a person with near perfection or zero perfection is to be seen as having "on-line" influence to the votes. I can't see any way that PR can win in majority should the very basic principles of union is non-existence among themselves. For me, eagerness to gain power is the same and not similar to lobbying for a position in Parliament. -Muhamad Nafi-
Feb 25, 2013 5:17AM
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